Since the days of pioneers like The Dominican Dandy Juan Marichal, Felix Millan, Manny Mota and the legendary Roberto Clemente, Latino players have a rich history of achievement in the National League. As the National League Playoffs kick off with the Wild Card Matchup between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates, there will be plenty of opportunities for this next generation of stars to make their own history. Here are some of the players Latino Sports Talk will be keeping an eye on to make moves this postseason. For their teams’ sakes, they better.
5. Starling Marte (Leftfield, Pittsburgh Pirates): The Pittsburgh Pirates outfield featuring Andrew McCutchen, Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte has the athletic ability that Steelers coach Mike Tomlin would like to see in his defensive backfield. Marte is one the most underrated 5 tool players in the game. His combination of power, speed and fluidity led to a solid season (.287 avg., 19HR, 81RBI, 84 R, 30SB) that gets undervalued by his hot and cold streaks and the large shadow that his Superstar teammate Andrew McCutchen casts. For the Pirates to win their first postseason series since 1979, Marte will need to play up to his abilities and show off his flair for game changing plays.
4. Jaime Garcia (Starting Pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals): Just when the Cardinals’ pitching staff looked mortally wounded losing their ace Adam Wainwright to injury in April, Cardinals pitchers like Jaime Garcia stepped up big time. One of baseball’s best comeback stories, the Reynosa, Mexico native who got drafted out of High School in Mission, Texas has been hot in 2015 with a 10-6 record with a 2.43 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. A left-hander who is holding right-handed hitters to a .218 batting average can make a huge impact as a starting pitcher or long reliever in the playoffs.
3. Jeurys Familia (Stopper, New York Mets): While baseball fans love to focus on high profile sluggers, playoff games are often won with your bullpens and specifically, a stopper that can close games with everything on the line. For the Mets to continue to be Amazin’ in the Playoffs, stopper Jeurys Familia will need to be his best. Familia has been the quiet rock of the Mets all season, racking up 43 Saves with a 1.85 ERA and 86 Strikeouts in 78 Innings Pitched. Chicks love the long-ball, but closers win championships.
2. Adrian Gonzalez (First Baseman, Los Angeles Dodgers): The pride of San Diego/Tijuana has been the only constant in a Dodgers offense that has been a mix mash of veterans and young players that have had a hard time gelling together. El Titan’s strong season in the middle of the Dodgers line-up (.275 Avg., 28 HR, 90 RBI) will need to be on full display for the Dodgers to advance in the playoffs.
1. (TIE) Yoenis Cespedes (Outfielder, New York Mets): La Potencia has given the Mets Top Billing in New York Sports since getting to Queens at the trade deadline. Cespedes’ great numbers (.287 Average, 17 HR, 44 RBI and .604 SLG %), versatility and sabor cubano has energized a fan base that hasn’t won a playoff series since 2006.
1.(TIE) Yadier Molina (Catcher, St. Louis Cardinals): Arguably the most valuable player in
the National League the last decade, Molina is literally putting a splint on a fractured finger to get behind home plate to lead his Cardinals yet again in the postseason. Molina’s influence goes well beyond statistics with his knack of managing pitchers through pressure packed games and clutch hitting. Can a hobbled Yadier write another chapter to a potential Hall of Fame career this Fall? Latino Sports Talk wouldn’t bet against him.
Notes: While it appears he will be on the bench when the Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Wild Card game begins, don’t be surprised if Cuban slugger Jorge Soler makes an impact this post-season. Hampered by injuries while still adjusting to Major League Baseball, the 23 year old Soler has the ability to make game-changing plays.
Pirates Infielder Pedro Alvarez is an infuriating talent. With rare hitting tools but sub-standard production, Alvarez can redeem himself with a strong post-season performance.
For more baseball playoff coverage, check out Latino Sports Talk’s Baseball Preview Podcast with Michael and Ray Collazo and continuing coverage of the Fall Classic at Latino Sports Talk.